Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Old age hair annoyances

The grey hair I can cope with - at least it hasn't fallen out. It's the surplus that gets me. Eyebrow hair used to know when to stop growing. Now there's at least fourteen that don't. Is this follicle Alzheimer's or something? Then there's the nasal hair, apparently suffering from the same condition. What the fuck is that for, exactly? What evolutionary purpose does it serve? None, as far as I can see.

Hire ex-soldiers as teachers, says union

From the Scotsman:
"Retired soldiers should be recruited as teachers to improve discipline in Scotland's schools, according to a teaching union official.

An American scheme has inspired the idea proposed by the NASUWT to tackle the "war zone characteristics" of some classrooms and turn "troops into teachers".

Roy Robertson, secretary of the union's Clackmannanshire branch, who served in the Territorial Army for more than 20 years, said he had seen violence in the playground escalate from "a bit of kicking" to "smashing someone's head into the ground".
I have to say, some of my colleagues seem to be struggling to get the whole military/school life-balance thing organised in their brains properly. First there was the frankly juvenile motion adopted by the NUT favouring a ban on military presentations in schools. But this is over-compensating a tad, to say the least. It's probably superfluous to reproduce them but the following reasons why this is a potty idea occurred to me:

1) Instead of drawing ideas from an American scheme, mightn't it be an idea to have a look at some countries that don't actually have schools that are so mental you have to call in the troops? Just a thought.

2) The military is definition a social arena where civil rights are suspended. So while the idea of court marshals for errant pupils might be emotionally desirable, it really isn't appropriate, is it? It's rather a school-boy error, rather than a teacher's one, to fail to identify weakness in school discipline as a failure of civil society.

3) It's not that I can't appreciate that things like expertise in the use of weaponry and hand-to-hand combat would be both fun and helpful in the classroom environment. It's just that we wouldn't be allowed to use either of these skills. Meanwhile, because what is taken for granted is so often forgotten, it's worth remembering that while good discipline is an essential prerequisite, it helps if teachers actually know stuff and can communicate said stuff. Skill in the former, indifference to the latter: this is no basis on which to judge whether someone is suitable for teaching.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sex-addict Tory peer, Lord Laidlaw, gives £1m to charity

This would be a charity to help people like Lord Laidlaw himself who are suffering from this terrible affliction:
"One of the Conservative Party’s richest donors is to give £1 million to help people who become obsessed with sex, after he admitted to battling against a sexual addiction throughout his adult life."
You wouldn't have thought someone could reach the age of 65 and still be such a stranger to the human condition. Being 'obsessed with sex' isn't an illness you need therapy for, you dumb tax-dodging parasite. Who isn't obsessed with sex? Nature demands it, does she not? What the 'sex-addicted' are suffering from that the rest of us aren't is rather the opportunity. Like this sort of thing, for example:
"The [News of the Screws] reported that he paid for groups of prostitutes to fly to Monte Carlo, where he lives as a tax exile, for allnight parties at the luxury Hermitage Hotel. Some of the women used cocaine during the parties, although Lord Laidlaw did not."
Because even on those occasions where good sense cannot restrain the goat within us all, the slide into ruin is nevertheless never quite so dramatic - largely on account of the fact that this kinda shit is rather beyond our means.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Parties and their leaders

There's lots of stuff about Brown and why he's so crap. Having gone from a coronation applauded, for the most part, by Labour-leaning journalists, the present buckets of refuse being poured on him from a great height is almost enough to make one feel rather sorry for our Gordon. Almost, I stress - but Andrew Rawnsley had a good point, I thought:
"It is a common and very human delusion. If only I could change one thing about me, so people say to themselves, my life would be transformed. If only I could get a new wife/husband/job/breast size/head of hair/house, then everything would be wonderful.

Just as human beings fall prey to this delusion, so too do political parties. When life seems bleak and miserable, the single thing they yearn to change is their leader. This delusion was one of the main reasons why Labour MPs forced Tony Blair to leave Number 10 earlier than he wanted to go. By poetic symmetry, this delusion is now one of the main reasons why Gordon Brown is coming under so much pressure and attack from within his own ranks.

When they waved goodbye to Tony Blair, far too many Labour people were under the misapprehension that he would take most, if not all, of the government's problems and unpopularity with him.
[...]
They had forgotten their history, one lesson of which is that the party itself has never been all that popular.(Emphasis added.)
Too true - and by no means confined to the Labour party. I'm wondering if it could be counted as a general rule - that when political parties start to think that the electorate are like them, they are - to use the technical term - fucked.

We saw it with the Tories under Major, deluding themselves that what would really float the electorate's boat was someone as hardline Eurosceptic, small statist, tough on foreigners, tough on the causes of foreigners, as many of them were. They had to go through William Hague, IDS and Michael Howard before the penny dropped.

Now it's Labour's turn; they did it under Blair and now under Brown. In another Brown-related post, Peter Ryley identifies part of the problem in the way that parties target swing-voters. A fair point in the context he uses it - but what strikes me is the way in which parties, when they're going through these phases of deluding themselves that people like them so much more than their leaders, have an impressive ability to completely ignore the polling evidence.

This is Brown's problem. Not so much his apparent inability, according to his fans, to let his 'true values' shine forth. It's worse than that. Even if he managed to do this, I doubt it would help him one iota. I'm repeating myself but the problem with Gordon's groupies is that they confused being Scottish and grumpy with social democracy. Brown is culturally Labour to his finger tips - Scottish Labour at that. This is the Labour that promotes and rewards, not according to merit or need, but based on calculations that are estimates of past loyalties and perceived betrayals - almost emptied as it is of any ideology. It is the reason, in case it escaped anyone's attention, that we have what seems to me to be about the weakest Cabinet in living memory - and I'm not sure even the history books could yield a weaker one. This is the sort of Labour that Scottish voters rejected in favour of the nationalists - even though a majority of us do not favour independence. (Maybe some day an English commentator will get this, but I won't hold my breath.)

What to do? I'd doubt getting rid of Brown would do them much good - it certainly wouldn't reflect very well on a party that gave him a coronation just under a year ago. Just like getting rid of the frankly useless Wendy Alexander wouldn't reflect very well on the Scottish party having given her an, um, coronation under a year ago. You'll be detecting a pattern here.

Labour members, Labour die-hards - if you listen carefully, you can just hear them muttering about loyalty, asking who's side I'm on, the usual shit. Yours. This is why I feel bound to point this out: the problem is you, comrade, the problem is you.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Badassin' the blogosphere

In what he imagines to be irony, Marko Attila Hoare has responded in the following fashion:
"Perhaps that’s the solution ? We could have separate schools for the working class and for the middle class. And in the working-class schools, so as not to patronise the children, we could encourage them to swear, twock cars and make spelling mistakes."
Does this guy know what I do for a living? With regards to the former, we already have this; as for the latter, they need no encouragement from me, I can assure you. But I digress...
"Thanks to Shuggy’s post, I’ve realised the error of my ways. I realise that if Geordies or Glaswegians spew vulgar abuse, mug old ladies and set fire to immigrants’ homes, they are just expressing their true, gritty, proletarian Northern culture."
Notice the weaving going on here: spewing vulgar abuse, mugging old ladies and racist arson are part of a seamless garment in the hands of Mr Hoare - this being a man eminently qualified to take the measure of the untermensch. Anyway, all this reminds me of the kinda thing we see too much of in the media and especially in the blogosphere: these who think most of the word's problems are attributable to the fact that no-one asked them to run it. If only they'd realise that there's a good reason for this...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

For friends, comrades, lumpen fellow cage-dwellers and shit like that...

Now, I haven't really followed the ding-dong between Marko Attila Hoare and my esteemed comrade and fellow Trots blogger Peter Ryley along with a few others but on catching the tail end of this, it isn't difficult to decide whose side you are on:
"While I indeed appreciate and respect several of these contributors, the overall tone of the blog is defined by the hatred, poison and negativity spewed copiously by the lumpen, semi-literate ’Will’ and by one or two others."
I take great offence at the word 'lumpen' being used as a term of abuse. Not personally, you understand - I'm more downwardly-mobile middle-class white trash myself. But in my unrelenting downward trajectory, amongst the most intelligent, gorgeous, freedom-loving people I have ever met have belonged to that class dismissed as 'lumpen', 'underclass', 'unemployable' - and other Victorian shit of that nature. If I'm ever foolish enough to get married again, I'll be having a member of this small but resilient social group as my best man. If I can put it like that, you might just be able to catch the music of what I'm saying - you fucking snob.

And it is Whiggish, Victorian bullshit we have to contend with from 'comrade' Marko. Those who declare the old divisions of left and right to be redundant are invariably former leftists and liberals who can't quite bring themselves to acknowledge that they've lost the faith of their youth and have moved to the right. He takes it further and produces a dichotomy that puts Pro-Western and Anti-Western as the principal ideological division of this age. One of my friends at DSTPFW rightly identified more than a whiff of Fukuyama in what he was saying. Accurate and appropriate, yet in some ways too generous in imputing to our protagonist subtlety of thought he does not possess. For he strikes me as one who belongs to that ancient tribe: those who thought change via humanistic improvement was impossible; then it came along and they accepted it, all the while pretending that they hadn't and simultaneously insisting that no significant future progress was either possible or desirable. A Tory, in other words. And a sensitive Tory at that:
"Not to mention the unending stream of vulgarity and abuse which any civilised person must find disgusting..."
Oh, sweetie! I feel so badly for you - to be introduced to how people in places like Glasgow and Newcastle actually talk. You know, like real people, majority people, common people, unwashed, uneducated and uncouth people. The kind of people who, if you were honest with yourself, you'd admit you despise. How traumatic and ghastly this must be for you. 'Burkes' at home? Unkind, unfair, unjust - to Burke, that is...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Comprehensives vs neighbourhood schools

Say what you like about Johann Hari, and I do from time to time, here's an issue he's right about and he's one of the few journalists I've read who seems to understand the nature of the problem. Comprehensive education has failed? How is it possible to make such an assessment when we don't have a comprehensive system? What we have, as Johann points out - although doesn't use this phrase - is a system of neighbourhood schools.

Please be under no illusions: advocates of bring-back-grammars (including the self-styled iconoclast 'left'), 'faith schools', city academies, private education (inexplicably called 'public schools' in England), and 'voucher systems' like to pretend they're in favour of 'excellence' and making a stand against 'dumbing down' or what ever the fuck... Perhaps they're not pretending and they are sincere but what they really favour is a system that gives plentiful escape hatches for the middle classes - or what is closer to their experience, so that their offspring don't have to mix with the great unwashed.

This despite the evidence that mixing is good. Faith schools get better results? Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes true. Where's the evidence? What there is evidence of is that 'faith schools' in England are selecting their intake. In Scotland, the picture is slightly different. Faith schools (i.e. RC schools) do slightly better than average - because they have to draw on a wider catchment and are therefore more genuinely comprehensive. But they don't top the league table - it's neighbourhood schools that do.

But why consider this when you can cleave to the myth that a return to the notion that a child's future can be, and should be, determined by a test they do when they're eleven years old is what is needed to help "bright working-class kids escape the hell of inner-city comps"? Yes, give your Daily Mail prejudices a prolier-than-thou veneer if you can. But before you do so, consider this question: can you explain to me why, exactly, a child has to be 'bright' to qualify for escape from a situation you consider to be 'hell'?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jack Straw 'threatened to punch rude Ed Balls'

From the Daily Heil:
"Simmering tensions in the Cabinet were laid bare yesterday following extraordinary reports of a bust-up between Jack Straw and Ed Balls.

Downing Street issued a strong denial after being confronted with a torrid account of feuding ministers that fuelled persistent talk of discontent inside the Government.

A newspaper claimed Mr Straw came close to blows with Mr Balls following a disagreement over youth justice policy."
I have to say that Jack Straw, what with his authoritarianism when he was Home Secretary, isn't my favourite politician but I have to say two things in his favour here:

1) Compared to what followed, we look back on our Jack's tenure in the Home Office as a halcyon liberal age.*

2) Punching Ed Balls strikes me as an excellent idea on a number of different levels.

My gripe would be that our Jack merely 'threatened' to punch Ed Balls and didn't follow through with such an eminently sensible policy idea. Such is the indecisiveness that palsies this administration.


Ed Balls: a face you could never tire of punching

*David Blunkett an 'aberration'? I say he formed part of a trend, a pattern - what say you, Paulie?

CiF redeems itself

Truth is, Comment is Worthless is a godsend to the blogger. Short of something to vent your spleen about? Simply follow the link above and within about forty-five seconds you're sure to find something. But a reassessment is in order because here's Ruth Fowler having a pop at "puritan bourgeois liberals":
"[M]isinformed and bigoted hatred is also a trait peculiar to the humourless bourgeois liberal. By singling out people, including themselves, on the basis of race, class and economics - traits that they simultaneously and hollowly decry as utterly unimportant - they perform a spectacular feat of unintentional postmodern irony, or what can be more commonly termed wankerism."
I have to say, living and working in Glasgow I never come across the sort of puritan liberals she describes.

There are two possible explanations for this:

1) They exist but have already wisely decided that talking to me is a complete waste of time and potentially a traumatic experience.

2) The few that existed have all been killed.

Perhaps they live in Edinburgh, in which case Will can take care of them.

Anyway, how fabulous is Ruth Fowler? Pretty goddam fabulous, in my view. Here's some info:
"Ruth Fowler was born in 1979 and grew up in the mountains of North Wales. She received a first class BA (Hons) in English Literature from Cambridge University in 2000. She is sure they let her in as the token comprehensive school northerner."
Hmmm - 1979? Bit of an age difference here, but not insurmountable... Did I mention my grandfather was Welsh? First class honours? Hey, I've got one of those too. (Is there no end to the things we have in common?) Means slightly less than fuck all - but you knew that already because you're just so gorgeously intelligent. Tokenism? No, no, no - apart from the usual mundane shit you need to get into the university of your choice, this was because you are an angel, a veritable goddess.

What an improvement to Comment is Bullshit! Why, her very presence even induced that rarest of things - a funny comment on a CiF thread:
"Julie Burchill and Christopher Hitchens had a baby.

It was a girl."
Funny - yet disturbing: while I enjoy both of these writers from time to time, frankly the idea of them doing the deed that leads to procreation puts images in my mind that I don't want to be there. Furthermore, while I intend no disrespect to either of them, I doubt very much whether the fruit of their loins would end up looking like this:



What - you find all this vulgar, un-PC and altogether too laddish for your taste? Ah, but herein lies the point, comrade sister, comrade brother: if so, her article's about you.

Mad Mel on educational 'Stalinism'

If you read the press and the blogosphere you'll know that there are now more Nazis and Stalinists than at any point in history. Stalinists, Nazis, 'totalitarians' - can't get on a bus without tripping over at least one, I find. Anyway, here's Melanie Phillips outing Mr Balls:
"For Mr Balls, [faith schools] are an obvious target because he is the chief of staff of the Labour party's unreconstructed class-warfare wing, whose aim is to attack excellence as 'elitist', impose a uniformity of mediocrity and beat the living daylights out of the middle classes wherever possible.

Possessed of an ideological zealotry exceeded only by his arrogance, he is that curiously dated and contradictory throwback - a Stalinist ex-public schoolboy, who is determined to deny to others the educational advantages that brought him to where he is today."
Hmph! New Labour does class-warfare all right - but it seems to some of us that it's the working class they're inclined to have a pop at. Truth is, those of us who favour closing faith schools and having them turned into museums of atheism are bound to be disappointed by Mr Balls. Stalinism indeed! It's not even Stalinism-lite. Rubbish, so it is. Anyway, one of the reasons Mel cites for this imaginary New Labour persecution of faith schools is...
"Faith schools are a firm favourite of the middle classes; that makes them enemies of the people for starters."
Not in the West of Scotland they aren't, which brings me to this point. There are a lot of reasons why we know Melanie Phillips is talking bollocks but here's just one: she's done so on many occasions in the past and I noticed she does it again here...
"Britain has tumbled down the international league tables in literacy, maths and science."
There are no 'international league tables' that measures the educational performance of Britain for the simple reason that there's no such thing as the British education system. This is not to say that Scotland's system performs that much better than the English system but perform better it does. Yet it has fewer faith schools, no selection, and a smaller private sector than England. Shouldn't such a 'Stalinist' state of affairs produce poorer results in the Mel-model?

Via: Dave's Part

Enough with the Muslim stories already

Man, give it a fucking rest. This story could easily be from the Daily Heil but in fact it's from the Torygraph - much the same but more difficult to read on the bus:
"Muslim sex offenders may be allowed to opt out of a prison treatment programme because it is against their religion, it has emerged.

The Prison Service's Muslim advisor has said there is a "legitimate Islamic position" that criminals should not discuss their crimes with others.

Under the Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP), which treats more than 600 prisoners including rapists and sexual killers each year, offenders must discuss their crime, sometimes in groups.

Ahtsham Ali said he would now urgently raise the issue with prison policy makers, raising the prospect of an exemption or special rules for Muslim prisoners."
Assuming this story is true, what's the problem here? Not Muslims but the "Prison Service's Muslim advisor" and any dimwitted "prison policy makers" who listens to this shit.

Is it just me? Tired, tired, tired of this shit.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

For liberal learning

Excellent stuff in defence of this here, here, here, and here.

I'd like to add something to all this though - something that those unacquainted with the education system in this country may be unaware of. And particularly those who insist on a narrow utilitarian, instrumentalist, value for money, make sure the tax-payer is getting his or her recompense, philistine view of education: this model of education usually fails to deliver even the dismal targets it sets for itself. You doubt me? Ask any employer. Why is this? Because it is a mentality that encourages both pupils and teachers, students and lecturers, to devalue their vocation - that's why.

Update: Oh, and here too. This is the joy of the blogosphere for me. No-one in the MSM writes stuff like this. Come to think of it, no-one in the mainstream of the blogosphere writes like this. Reason: they want jobs in the MSM. Or is this unkind?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Odds and sods

Nothing profound to say - so no change there. Instead, here's couple of silly things:

Balls in talks over cadet corps in schools. Ed Balls: unfortunate name; unfortunate ideas:
"Ed Balls, the children's secretary, is in discussion with Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence on ways to expand military cadet corps in English secondary schools.

Supporters of the scheme say it would help to restore discipline among vulnerable teenagers and build a better understanding between civil society and the armed forces."
I'm not sure if the cadet corp gives them access to the real thing but I'm not sure allowing the average teenager within sniffing distance of firearms is such a good idea. Teachers getting weapons training, on the other hand - now there's an idea. One I've advocated many times in the past until my psychiatrist told me to stop.

The Diana inquest. No expense was spared to come to the conclusion that most of us did at the time: being driven at high speeds with no seat-belts when the driver is drunk isn't good for your health. What got me was all this stuff on the news with reporters asking: will this lay the conspiracy theories to rest? Of course it won't. Conspiracy theorists don't deal with evidence - they construct their bizarre theories in the absence of evidence. Then when some evidence comes along and messes up the space where they've built their theories, they ignore it and/or suggest the people who have produced it are in on the conspiracy too. The thing to do with such mentalists is ignore them - not give them attention that confirms their lunacy. Like having a public inquest, for example.

"Britishness is like a scab". I noticed Jura Watchmaker made the same observation that occurred to me: a more Buntingesque line it is difficult to imagine. The thing is, she had something resembling a point with this analogy because some people can't seem to leave it alone and when she argues that trying to reduce it to a credo is a mistake that is counter to the tradition of Britishness itself:
"Our sense of nationhood is built out of historical compromises, not out of a revolutionary agenda such as France or America's civic nationalism.

But to a prime minister steeped in Scottish Calvinism, such talk of the ambiguity of symbols is mumbo-jumbo. He wants it in words..."
She's right. The very point about Britishness, for me anyway, is you don't need to keep picking away at it, examining it all the time. And while people obviously will have ideas as to what it is about, nevertheless it isn't an idea in the way that being American or French is an idea. There are good and bad things about this but that's the way it is and that's what Britishness is for me: not a credo, nor a comparison - just a degree of affection for what is. Defining it, celebrating it, teaching it, on the other hand - someone else is going to have to do that. But I rather wish they wouldn't.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

NUT votes for strike action

Teachers' pay and conditions of service are poorer than what those of us in Scotland enjoy, so I can only wish them good luck with that. But I have to say, I do wish my colleagues were less inclined to make the sort of crap arguments that Sarah Donachy makes over at Comment is Worthless. For example:
"How do we raise the aspirations of young people in challenging areas when we can't attract the brightest minds to the professions that are charged with this very aim? How do we keep those few who have taken up the challenge?"
There's a couple of problems I have with this line:

1) Where does she, and others like her, get the idea that the 'brightest minds' are any good at 'motivating' people - or, indeed, necessarily any good at teaching at all? Haven't they noticed that bright people are often a) incurable cynics b) socially incompetent?

2) Even if we could accept that one of the key problems in our education system is a deficit of the aforementioned 'brightest minds', do we really want a whole lot of people who are motivated primarily by money? This is not to say that teaching as a vocation should be seen as a monastic embrace of Holy Poverty or something but this brings me to the third point.

3) Retention can be a problem in certain areas, I would agree - but I have never, ever, heard of anyone either leaving the profession, or say they are considering leaving, and citing low wages as the reason.

None of this is to say the NUT's claim isn't justified but it would be better to stick to arguments that have to do with their wages falling behind the cost of living and the growth in real earnings and boring stuff like that. But typically someone leaves the profession because of general stress, boredom, weariness of having to put up with the bullshit etc. Which brings us to Ms Donachy herself. She says:
"So we're warning you Gordon: the NUT is striking for the first time in a generation and we mean what we say. Put your money where your mouth is. Pay us what we need to live. Give us fair pay for the crucial job we do and reposition teaching as the respected, valued and cherished profession it once was."
They mean what they say - they're going on strike for a whole day! Gordon must be trembling in his boots. On the other hand, he might have good reason to doubt the resolve of people like Sarah Donachy who think it's part of their shift to be told to "fuck off" on a regular basis. She seems to be implying that a pay rise would help restore respect for teachers. I have to say, a pay rise wouldn't raise my opinion of Ms Donachy one iota - but here's a couple of things that would. She could resolve to stop being a doormat. (She lets pupils tell her to "fuck off" - and she's supposed to be an assistant head!? God help us. And we're told she works in a 'challenging' school. Do you really? Finding it 'challenging', are we? That's another thing you could do: cut the crap and stop using these silly euphemisms, will ya?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Two unrelated annoyances

British summertime begins

Well, whoopee! Let's dance down the street naked singing hallelujah. Oh, hang on - it's fucking freezing. Actually, on Monday I swear I could see that yellow thing in the sky - and it was actually giving off something resembling warmth. "Spring is really here", I thought - and my heart swelled with joy. But actually no, it was God saying, "This is what spring would look like if it had arrived but it hasn't, so hunker down and wrap up warm - there's more horizontal rain coming your way."

And what's with this changing of the clocks shit? I've yet to hear a satisfactory explanation. Two that circulate have something to do with Scottish farmers and kids going to school. Someone's seriously over-rating these constituencies if they think their concerns are worth making everyone else's Sunday hang-overs/come-downs more surreal than they were already. In the depths of the Scottish winter, it's dark when you go to work and dark when you go home: fucking about with the clocks isn't going to alter this fact. If anyone wants to overcome this problem, what about four hour shifts instead?

Inspirational signs in the workplace

I have no photos this time but take my word for it: they are spreading like a disease. There's one in this place that says something like, "It's easier to go downhill than up but the view is better from the top." Honestly! What exactly the fuck is that supposed to mean? It rather depends on what the respective views from each vantage point are, surely? What, for example, if the view from the top of the hill was a nuclear power station? And what if the view from the bottom was a group of nubile maidens frolicking in a lake after a hard day's hill-walking? How would you feel? Pretty goddam stupid for taking these vapid messages to heart, that's what.

There's another one that says, "On your own, you'll go faster - but together we'll go further." Sorry - none the wiser: which is supposed to be better? Depends where the fuck you're going, does it not? Is my job not difficult enough without being confronted with this shit in the corridor every day? It's a rhetorical question. It is. Definitely.

"The ultimate taboo?"

Jackie Ashley complains that politicians will talk about sex and rock and roll but won't talk about drugs: "What is it about politicians and drugs?", she asks.

Um, unlike sex or rock and roll, drugs are illegal, Jackie - I think you'll find this is why politicians are reluctant to talk about using them. Personally, rather than seeing an end to this 'taboo', there should be more of them because the opinions of politicians on drugs aren't any more interesting than those they hold on sex or rock and roll. Take Gordon Brown, for example, who seems to be unaware of the fact that it's the 'changing nature of the stock' that's produced within the country that's the problem.

There's a wider point: what it it about journalists and drugs? Why do they insist on writing columns about them when they clearly have no idea what they're talking about? And why are they implicitly chiding Nick Clegg for promising to make political life as "open and accessible" as possible and at the same time refusing to be drawn on the question as to whether he's ever taken drugs? Instead, they might ask him what his policies on the matter are - and chide him instead for telling us how many people he's slept with. For who gives a shit about this? Journalists, apparently.

Update: Saw this from the spot where Telegraph readers are invited to give their view:
"What happend to freedo of choice if the individual wants to smoke it they will , if they make it a higher grade drug then people will be going to more dangerous ways of obtaining it.

Never done or hasn't done any of my friends or i any damage, certainly no more damage then what alchahol, stress, pollution ect has done to anyones body......."
Unsure if this is a spoof - like the one you get on this where the representative for the campaign to legalise cannabis says something like, "A lot of cats put down grass, man - and say shit about it, like it makes you lose your memory and shit but...uh...sorry - forgot where I was, man."
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